DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 25, 2009

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 25, 2009
Table of Contents:
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IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENTS AND DEBITO.ORG READER REPORTS
1) Naturalized J citizen Jiei stopped by Osaka cops for Gaijin Card Check. Shitsukoidom ensues
2) JIPI book on “The Concept for a Japanese-Style Immigration Nation”, by Sakanaka Hidenori
3) Discrimination at Ernst & Young ShinNihon LLC, report by Roy Choudhury
4) On the cannibalistic NJ labor market in Japan: short essay
5) A spate of Debito.org-related news links, on PR, visas with kids, NJ unemp insurance, and Roppongi drink spiking
6) Greenmailing and Bloat within Japan’s Bio-Gas market, by James Eriksson

UPDATES
7) Japan Times, NHK, Terrie’s Take & Mainichi on Japan’s child abductions from broken marriages, and Hague Treaty developments
(complete with heavily-biased news segment from NHK)
8 ) Launching websites: youtube human rights, and Childrens’ Rights Network Japan
9) IHT/Asahi on Japan’s reticence to sign Hague Treaty on Child Abduction
10) UN NEWS: UN expert calls on Japan to boost action in combating human trafficking
11) Murder suspect Ichihashi’s reward upped to 10 million yen
12) Kyodo: Resident NJ numbers rise yet again in 2008, according to MOJ

BRIGHT SHINY THINGS
13) Review of documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES in Kansai Scene July 2009, September Road Show
14) Aso Cabinet Email Mag: Aso explains himself away to the outside world as he asks for renewed power
15) Some brief commonsensical thoughts on Tokyo Election July 12, 2009
16) Sunday Tangent: Stray thoughts on Rbt. McNamara’s timely passing

… and finally …
17) SAPPORO SOURCE July 2009, Column 2 on Sapporo’s Summer of Love. Every Summer. (full text)
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By Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
Daily blog www.debito.org, facebook and twitter arudoudebito
Freely Forwardable

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IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENTS AND DEBITO.ORG READER REPORTS

1) Naturalized J citizen Jiei stopped by Osaka cops for Gaijin Card check. Shitsukoidom ensues

Here’s an important bellwether essay from Jiei, a fellow naturalized Japanese citizen who was singled out for a Gaijin Card Check by Osaka Cops last night. He tells the story of how he stood up for himself despite being explicitly suspected of being drunk or on drugs, and for sitting on a swingset while white when taking a break from jogging in a park. He cites the law back to the cops chapter and verse, but they undeterredly continue the questioning and racial profiling. I won’t give away the ending.

The point is, this is going to happen more and more often as more people naturalize, and more Japanese of international marriages come of age and get hassled for not looking “Japanese” enough to allay cops’ suspicion. This is not legally sanctioned, in any case. Which means people must learn about their rights and assert them, because there are no other checks and balances here.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3925

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2) JIPI book on “The Concept for a Japanese-Style Immigration Nation”, by Sakanaka Hidenori

I received this book from Director Sakanaka Hidenori at JIPI (Japan Immigration Policy Institute) two days ago. Nice little handbook, haven’t read it yet, but here are scans of the cover, the contact details for you to get your own copy, and table of contents. You see, despite the virtual taboo on considering immigration as an option within some public fora, other people are still willing to put pen to paper and give it a good think.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3918

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3) Discrimination at Ernst & Young ShinNihon LLC, report by Roy Choudhury

Roy Choudhury writes: Ernst & Young’s Shame: Racism institutionalizes itself in the Japanese wing of the accounting giant

Accounting can do wonders, but just where in the free world do you find an audit firm whose Global Code of Conduct shuns discrimination, but whose lead partner confirms that non-Japanese nationals are barred from getting permanent contracts? And whose department head admits to taking “language differences” into account even for a job that needs no Japanese? Ernst & Young ShinNihon LLC (or EY-Japan), the country’s largest accounting firm, has got some explaining to do.

I worked for EY-Japan for two years (2006 – 2008) and have firsthand knowledge of how they treat people. As a US citizen, I can tell you I have never seen anything like it. They happen to be institutionally racist. And I can prove it:

http://www.debito.org/?p=3885

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4) On the cannibalistic NJ labor market in Japan: short essay

A quick essay this morning regarding the negativity within the NJ job market and marketplace of ideas. Excerpt:

Why not try being more supportive and positive? I have tried to do my bit over the decades. The Blacklist of Japanese Universities. The Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants. Debito.org. Lessons I’ve learned to make sure people avoid the pitfalls I fell into, and make a better life here. Anyone can do that. Anyone should. Promote the dignity of the individual rather than the cannibalistic collective. Because whatever you put into the pool of communal experiences, be they supportively informative or negatively discouraging, will eventually come back to affect you and your life here in Japan with interest.

Animated discussion on this at:
http://www.debito.org/?p=3895

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5) A spate of Debito.org-related news links

Yomiuri: MOJ revises guidelines to allow illegals with kids to stay longer
Mainichi: New special residency permit guidelines established
Mainichi: U.S. warns of drink-spiking in Tokyo
Mainichi: Recognizes immigration revision is possibly too strict (in Japanese only)
Nikkei.net: On promoting suffrage rights for PR
Mainichi: Some NJ not getting unemployment pay

http://www.debito.org/?p=3854

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6) Greenmailing and Bloat within Japan’s Bio-Gas market, by James Eriksson

Turning the keyboard to James Eriksson of Monbetsu, who writes an expose of the Bio-Gas market:How the “eco” fad is being used as a means to justify yet more bloat and corruption, with the domestic media (with its lack of ability to do investigative journalism or even simple mathematics) a willing accomplice at perpetuating the lies being told within the industry. Read on, I dare you, and wonder how people could ever be fooled by all this.

Excerpt: In rural Japan there is the environmental concern, engineering know how, work ethic, and pent up energies waiting to break out if we ever get a chance to break out/past the failed models of development followed for the last 40 years.

These visions and desires do not generally exist in the civil service whose educational background to pass the civil service test is woefully incomplete. It usually does not exist in the construction tribe who have little experience outside of bloated public works dependencies and resulting political donations. It does not exist in the political elite who can’t read a balance sheet and don’t know the meaning of the term to “stand guard over the public purse”.

It does not exist in the Hokkaido Development Agency who have funded hundreds if not thousands of money losing bloated projects. It does not exist in government officials in Tokyo where sidewalks that no one will walk on are thought to be ‘infrastructure’. Unfortunately the leadership for the first few years will have to come from elsewhere. Japan cannot afford “Potemkin Villages” masquerading as green projects. The world faces an environmental crisis where cost effectiveness and financial sustainability are absolute requirements.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3866

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UPDATES

7) Japan Times, NHK, Terrie’s Take & Mainichi on Japan’s child abductions from broken marriages,and Hague Treaty developments (complete with heavily-biased news segment from NHK)

What follows are several articles on Japan not signing the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, and how after divorce in Japan one parent gets denied all access to their child (especially in international marriages, where children get abducted to another country). This has been getting international press and diplomatic attention. Finally NHK did a report on it on July 15, and it was a crock — trying too hard to present the Japanese as being kawaisoued (even presented a Japanese mother as being forced to live in Japan against her will, hostage to American courts, while one who abducted to Japan managed to escape the NJ “cultural” tendency towards violence. Very, very disappointing NHK, if not damaging of the case being made internationally by left-behind parents. I get the feeling the wagons are circling to galvanize public opinion against Hague. And I speak too as a left-behind parent who hasn’t really seen his kids for more than five years now.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3481

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8 ) Launching websites: youtube human rights, and Childrens’ Rights Network Japan

Two recently-launched online sites dealing with discrimination that deserve publicity and assistance, and Debito.org is glad to give it:

VISUAL VIGILANTES
LAUNCH OF JAPAN AGAINST DISCRIMINATION YOUTUBE CHANNEL
VIDEO RECORDS OF HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES

http://www.youtube.com/user/JADvideo77

RELAUNCH OF CHILDREN’S RIGHTS NETWORK JAPAN WEBSITE
AS CRN JAPAN DOT NET

The CHILDREN’S RIGHTS NETWORK JAPAN website has been a comprehensive index of children abducted or otherwise denied access to one of their parents after divorce or separation. It has brought to light the very real problem in Japan of how marriages gone sour result in children growing up without a parent.
http://www.crnjapan.net

http://www.debito.org/?p=3844

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9) IHT/Asahi on Japan’s reticence to sign Hague Treaty on Child Abduction

Asahi: Broken international marriages involving Japanese in which one parent takes offspring overseas without the other’s consent are on the rise, putting the government in a bind about how to deal with such cases.

The question is whether Japan should be a party to an international treaty aimed at settling such parental “abduction” disputes across national borders.

Tokyo is under pressure — from within and from outside — to join the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction of 1980, which now has 81 parties.

According to embassies here, there have been 73 child abductions by Japanese parents from the United States, 36 from Britain and 33 each from Canada and France. [NB: Time period not indicated.]

Lawyer Kensuke Ohnuki, who handles about 200 divorces among international matches a year, says most child “abductions” by Japanese women are a result of spousal violence. The treaty does not take a parent’s reason for fleeing into consideration, he said.

COMMENT: Leaving aside yet another media opportunity for this crank lawyer to make yet another bigoted statement, I’ll come out and say it plainly:

The GOJ doesn’t want to cooperate with these international treaties because we have enough trouble getting Japanese to have babies. We don’t want to surrender them to NJ overseas. I have heard that theory off the record from an international lawyer quoting somebody in the ministries. And I bet that even if Japan signs the Hague, it won’t enforce it (similar in the ways it will not enforce the CCPR or the CERD treaties). Why would the GOJ ever give more power over custody to NJ than it would its own citizens, who can already abduct and shut out one parent after divorce thanks in part to the koseki system?

http://www.debito.org/?p=3857

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10) UN NEWS: UN expert calls on Japan to boost action in combating human trafficking

UN NEWS: 17 July 2009 Although Japan recognizes the seriousness of the problem of human trafficking within its borders, the East Asian nation must take more concrete action to fight the scourge, an independent United Nations human rights expert said today.

“Human trafficking affects every country of the world, and Japan is clearly affected as a destination country for many of those victims,” said Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, wrapping up a six-day visit to the country.

The majority of trafficking is for prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation in Japan, but she pointed out that trafficking for labour exploitation is also cause for great concern.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3888

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11) Murder suspect Ichihashi’s reward upped to 10 million yen

Murder suspect Ichihashi Tatsuya, who escaped from the police some months ago, leaving behind the murdered and mutilated corpse of English teacher Lindsay Ann Hawker in a tub of sand on his apartment balcony, is still on the loose.

That’s not news. What is news is how the reward has now been multiplied by 10, to ten million yen. Take a look at these wanted posters: Pachinko Jackpot Zorome style!

Slight correction. Ichihashi, unlike his other fellow murder suspects, is still not wanted for “murder”. Only for the “abandonment of a corpse”. A charge that seems to pop up quite a bit, I argued in a Japan Times article last March, in cases involving murders of foreigners. Ah well. At least he’s ten times more wanted than the others by value.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3790

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12) Kyodo: Resident NJ numbers rise yet again in 2008, according to MOJ

Kyodo: The number of registered foreign residents in Japan hit a record high of 2,217,000 at the end of 2008, marking an increase of around 50% in the last decade, a report released by the Justice Ministry said Friday. The registered foreign population accounts for 1.74% of Japan’s total population, it said.

COMMENT: The study of Japan’s internationalization has of late become a dismal science (more on that in an extensive commentary). It gives me hope that NJ are still coming despite all the GOJ disincentives. But we still have to see how 2009 turns out, since I think it’s possible the numbers of registered NJ in Japan may drop for the first time in five decades this year…

http://www.debito.org/?p=3824

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BRIGHT SHINY THINGS

13) Review of documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES in Kansai Scene July 2009, September Road Show

Here’s a nice review of documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES that reader SD advised me of a few days ago (I’m too far north to get this magazine). From Kansai Scene magazine July 2009. Click on the graphic to expand in your browser.

If you’d like to see the movie for yourself, I’m hosting another tour Aug 30-Sept 13 between Okayama and Tokyo. Schedule here. If you’d like to order a copy for educational purposes etc., click here.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3905

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14) Aso Cabinet Email Mag: Aso explains himself away to the outside world as he asks for renewed power

Aso Cabinet Email Mag, on the eve of the dissolution of his administration:

The responsibility of politics is none other than to safeguard people’s daily lives and to protect Japan.

As I am in a position of responsibility, I must clarify the fiscal revenues for policies and the path to restore fiscal health in the long term. I must also show a clear diplomatic vision to protect the people. I will work together with the people to create a vision of the future of Japan.

How do we balance the enhancement of the social security system, such as pensions, medical care, and nursing care, with the rebuilding of public finances? How do we work with the international community to address the North Korean issue, which threatens the security of Asia, and the piracy issue, and to fight against terrorism?

For these difficult issues, I will listen to what the people have to say and dedicate myself to fulfilling my political responsibility to safeguard people’s daily lives and to protect Japan.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3861

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15) Some brief commonsensical thoughts on Tokyo Election July 12, 2009

As usual (I get all geeky looking at election results; dunno why), let me give you a quick set of thoughts on yesterday’s election in Tokyo. I’m not going to provide really deep politico analysis on Japanese politics (that can be found most fascinatingly here and here), just some common sense. Excerpt:

As my friend said last night, “The LDP have been taken to the woodshed.” The LDP dropped from 48 to 38 seats. Although KMT held on to their seats (23), the DPJ was the biggest gainer, rising from 35 seats to 54. Since the majority line is at 64, for the first time an LDP-fronted coalition is not in charge of the Tokyo Prefectural Assembly.

PM Aso has kept saying that the Tokyo Elections have no bearing on national politics, but it seems that he’s a minority of one in that belief. Even his own party is calling for his resignation. He refuses to leave the helm of the LDP. Good. That means this proud old fool will probably drive his party further into the ground than ever before. It’s hard to envision, but if he manages to cause the dissolution of the LDP itself, he could even go down as the worst PM ever (that honor I bestow unto former PM Murayama, who killed the Socialist Party during his Faustian bargain for the prime ministership in the 1990s).

The DPJ has decided to introduce a vote of “No Confidence”, and Aso decided today that the Diet would be dissolved on July 21, with elections on August 30. As a voter, I’m looking forward to that. The long hot summer has just gotten hotter. And we may emerge with a brand new polity and sweep out the long-entrenched and corrupt incumbents at last.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3837

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16) Sunday Tangent: Stray thoughts on Rbt. McNamara’s timely passing

As a tangent this Sunday, I thought I’d say a few words on the timely passing (hell, he was 93, and outlived most of his compatriots of this generation) of former US Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara one of the most promising boffins of the 20th Century, and the so-called primary architect of the US’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

Excerpt: I do see McNamara as a person who was too smart for his own good. As one of the “Golden Boys” within the Kennedy Administration Intelligentsia (carried on through to the end of Johnson in 1968), here was a man seen as able to take on all of the world’s problems with a slide rule and a command of statistics. As long has he had enough information, I believe (and so did many others believe) that he thought he could solve anything…

http://www.debito.org/?p=3795

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… and finally …

17) SAPPORO SOURCE July 2009, Column 2 on Sapporo’s Summer of Love. Every Summer. (full text)

My second column for the new Sapporo free paper SAPPORO SOURCE came out a few days ago, again as last time talking about something completely different: The weather. Last time was the hell of Sapporo Winters. This time the heaven of Sapporo Summers. Enjoy!

=================================
HOKKAIDO’S SUMMER OF LOVE. EVERY SUMMER.
Column 2 for the SAPPORO SOURCE “DEBITO” column
To be published in the July 2009 issue
DRAFT NINE

Blogged at http://www.debito.org/?p=3868

Last column I talked about our wretched Hokkaido winters. Now for the polar opposite: our seductive summers!

Come what May, Hokkaido bursts into color. Unlike down south, where the flowering trees stagger their blossoms (first plum, then cherry weeks later), we go full bloom practically overnight. Like fireworks beginning with the finale, then tapering into a latent green. Like black-and-white Dorothy opening the door to a Technicolor Oz.

Then by June visits the long-awaited perfect summer. And I mean perfect. July, August, and half of September are usually sunny. Not too hot, not too cold, with a cool breeze at night. While the rest of Japan swelters and kvetches about stuff like “heat islands”, few Dosanko even buy air conditioners.

No wonder. Although during Hokkaido winters you hunker in your bunker, summers you open up your heart and let the outside in. My windows are apert 24-7. In my first apartment I even removed my sliding balcony doors, and had no wall for two months. I was effectively camping out all the time.

I’m not alone. The entire island of Hokkaido — all 78,000 square kms of it — becomes a playground. Take any mode of transportation you prefer (me, bicycle) and explore the outback. Thousands of motorcyclists escape the south to meadowcrash, pitch tents, sleep cheap in people’s garages, and just plain tour — sampling barbecue, seafood, and produce from locals taking advantage of the summer windfall. It’s the Happy Season; even the lonely parts of Hokkaido are awash in cash.

Hokkaido summers are better for early birds. If you check a Universal Time map, Hokkaido is on the far eastern edge of our time zone (Sakhalin, directly north, is an hour behind, and the Russian province due north of Nemuro is two hours back). Moreover unlike Russia, Japan won’t institute daylight savings time, so Hokkaido’s outback sleeps through a 3:30AM sunrise at solstice. Even with sundowns at a wastefully early 7PM, our long calm twilights, with the smell of outdoor grill wafting through the curtains, still bring out the night owls.

Hokkaido summers are a celebration of life and creation. The forests are growing full blast (after all, they only have a window of five months), all the crops you love (from hops to potatoes) are ripening, and anything green and flowering is filling the air with fresh oxygen and fragrance. Everyone is getting some while they can. Birds are doing it. Bees too. And humans?

Well, summer’s peak is for me the beer garden in Sapporo Odori. Bacchanalia beckons an orgy of unbuttoned shirts and diaphanous skirts. Like every northern territory worldwide (consider Scandinavia), everyone’s outside getting their licks and kicks while they can. Guzzle any night and you can sense pheromones, ringent rosebuds moistening, and windows of opportunity opening. It’s sexy. Even the flowering acacia trees smell like nocturnal emissions. Afterwards, the revelers repair to Susukino. Or maybe a block or two beyond.

Summer is what keeps me here. The first time I suffered through that long cold lonely winter, I wondered how why a million people would ever congregate in Sapporo. Then in 1988 I experienced my first July and August. Got some, got plenty. I cycled the city practically every night, listening to crickets bray in gardens, weird bug-birds caroming through the night, and fading police sirens chasing revving motorcycle gangs, all echoing down the warm dark cityblock corridors.

It was a siren song. I was smitten with Sapporo then and I still am now. Like the first time you hear a great melody, and it introduces you to an entire musical genre you explore for years, I’ve spent my life trying to recapture the peace and calm I felt those nights.

To this day, I still cycle Hokkaido after sundown, sometimes all night, to see how far I can get (I’ve reached Asahikawa and Oshamanbe). Why travel outside this August playground when all you need is right here?

To be sure, Hokkaido summers almost — and I stress, almost — make up for the dire winters. It’s still worth the wait. You can experience the Summer of Love in Hokkaido. Every summer. Take advantage. Get some.

ENDS
695 WORDS

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Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito in Sapporo (debito@debito.org)
Daily blog www.debito.org, facebook and twitter arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 25, 2009 ENDS

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